This paper sets the contributions to this volume in the context of widespread and serious doubts expressed by economists about the mainstream of their subject. Orthodox economics is increasingly dominated by sterile formalism, which refers only to itself. But the methodology of orthodox economics is under attack, and many economists are proposing an alternative agenda for the subject. This paper argues that there is a valid future for economics, but to reach it economists will have to abandon sterile formalism, stop invoking notions of ‘rigour’ which they do not understand, adopt pluralism and learn from cognate disciplines instead of trying to colonise them.
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